Teachers focusing on mental health as school starts in Kanawha County

Education

SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – For some students in the Tri-State, summer officially came to an end today. Today was the first day of school for students in Kanawha County.

The first day of school always causes a whirlwind of emotions for everyone: students, teachers, faculty and even parents. This is especially the case after the uncertainty of last year’s combination of in-person, virtual, and blended learning.

Students at South Charleston Middle School are excited to be back in the classroom. “I think it will go a lot better since last year – we were half and half for the first semester and part of the second semester but since we’re all in full time, it’s going to be a lot easier to go through,” said Kynan Craddock, an eighth grade student.

In Amy Holland’s eighth grade class, students dove right into learning. But this year, they’re also focusing on more than just academics. “We’re focusing on mental and emotional needs and really reaching our students, building those relationships – we know is so important. Once you build relationships with a child, then the academics follow for sure,” said Holland, the West Virginia studies teacher at South Charleston Middle School.

One way Mrs. Holland is doing this is by writing notes on her student’s lockers to show how special they are to her. “I came in yesterday and did that. And I’ve never done that before. But again coming off of last year there’s something in the air. I feel it. There’s something special about this year,” said Holland.

Some students say getting adjusted is the hardest part. “I came a little bit late last year so it was like everyone else was already in school and it was my first day. I was nervous too but it was easier as the year went through,” said Mikaylah Collins, a seventh grade student.

And although the future of the school year is still uncertain, for now students are enjoying being together. “But I could tell the kids definitely want to be here. There’s nothing like being together and being engaged together and doing hands-on things,” added Holland.

Mrs. Holland says that her class already has some field trips planned to Tamarack and West Virginia’s newest national park, the New River Gorge.

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